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328 Chinese nationals illegally crossing US border caught so far in 2020

A Customs and Border Protection truck patrols the border fence east of Otay Mesa outside San Diego in April 2017. (Alejandro Tamayo/San Diego Union Tribune/TNS)
March 05, 2020

Some 328 Chinese nationals have been apprehended while trying to illegally cross the border since January of this year — also the time period since the global coronavirus outbreak began.

Border officials identified the 328 Chinese nationals among those apprehended and sent to wait on the Mexican side of the U.S. southern border so far this year. Officials told the Washington Examiner those efforts to apprehend Chinese nationals illegally crossing the border have been an extension of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) heightened awareness of the spread of coronavirus.

Three South Korean nationals have also been stopped in illegal crossing attempts so far this year.

Thus far, 227 foreign nationals who have tried to enter through legal points of entry between Feb. 2 and March 3 have also been turned away by border agents after President Donald Trump imposed new travel restrictions related to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Among those stopped while trying to pass through a legal port of entry, 90 Chinese nationals were stopped.

According to the Washington Examiner, officials within the Trump administration have credited Trump’s recent coronavirus-related travel restrictions, as well as his overall focus on border security throughout his presidency, as having helped stop the potential spread of the coronavirus through the southern border.

Several members of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have also been involved in the Trump administration’s efforts to stop the coronavirus. DHS agencies including CBP, the DHS Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office (CWMD), the U.S. Coast Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have provided hundreds of their members to assist in tasks like coronavirus screenings, resource planning and interagency coordination.

A new court challenge has emerged recently against the Trump administration’s ‘remain in Mexico’ policy, which makes those attempting to enter the country with asylum claims wait in Mexico before their court date. According to acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf, the new challenge against the ‘remain in Mexico’ policy could make it more difficult for border officials to stop illegal entry and raise the risk of unchecked health risks crossing the border.

“MPP has an uncertain future. We know from experience that the journey to the U.S. border puts migrants in poor conditions — and they often arrive with no passports, medical histories, or travel manifests,” Wolf said. “The administration will continue to closely monitor the virus globally, as well as in our hemisphere, and will adjust our proactive measures as necessary.”

Another unnamed senior administration official told Washington Examiner, “We have a unique public health threat posed by individuals arriving unlawfully at the border. Any halting of MPP would exacerbate that threat.”